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Donor, Driver, Life Saver

by Claire DeRoin

“Volunteerism is in my DNA,” explained Joe D’Souza.

To anyone who knows him, that’s obvious! Joe is a familiar face to central Iowa LifeServe team members. Phlebotomists know him as a regular. A 24+ gallon blood donor, Joe generously gives whatever blood product is most needed at the time of his appointment. Double red cell, plasma, platelets – he’s given it all many, many times.

“The first step is the hardest step, but it’s one pin prick!” Joe explained. “Don’t think about that moment. Think about what’s happening down the line. Some guy is being saved, some lady is being saved. Some child is being saved. A newborn is getting your blood.”

A devastating experience during Joe’s service in the Indian army set him on his lifelong blood donation journey. During an inspection, a soldier was crushed by a 40 ton armored personnel carrier. Joe rushed to the scene with his fellow officers. He joined soldiers as they lined up to give blood in hopes of saving their comrade. The soldier didn’t survive his injuries, but Joe never forgot how vital blood was in those critical moments after the accident.

That’s why he urges new donors to take the plunge.

“I understand people are scared of many things. Unless you try it, you do not know,” Joe said. “You may be scared. I was scared when I gave my first time donation.  Over time, you give two, three times, you’ll say ‘that was easy!’ It becomes part of the routine.”

Twenty four gallons and several awards later, Joe is a cherished LifeServer. When he’s not in a donor chair, he’s in a LifeServe vehicle delivering blood and supplies. In 2019 alone, Joe drove just over 100 hours!

Those accomplishments really stack up, and Joe loves every minute. “It’s something – really heartfelt emotions you’ll have.”